Take new practice management technologies to the bank as patients push for online services

March 25, 2012

I was recently interviewed for a nice article on why and how private physician practices should push for new technologies. Andrea Downing Peck did a pretty good job putting together a collage of views from me and some of my well known colleagues online: Mary Pat Whaley, David Henriksen, Dr. Jaan Sidorov, Shari Crooker, Rosemarie Nelson, David Harvey, David Williams.

Here are some of my favorite quotes (taken directly from the article):

  • Mary Pat Whaley: "Patients are saying, ‘If I can’t register for your practice online or ask for an appointment or get a prescription online, I really don’t want to work with you. If the convenience isn’t there, [they] don’t have time in [their] lives for a physician who is not going to offer these things."
  • About Data safety remaining a concern with cloud computing, Dr. Sidorov say: "Is all that patient information really secure being stored on some server in Singapore? Will it be easier for some hacker to [break] into that particular database? Maybe I don’t know. It’s probably better than storing patient information on a local server in a closet next to a water heater in a typical physician’s office."
  • David E. Williams: "The physician’s office is one of the last places you can go into where, if you’re Rip Van Winkle and have been asleep since the 1950s, you’ll feel comfortable there seeing all the colored tab folders with the patient records and so on.”
  • Shahid Shah: “As long as we have insurance, any PCP, especially those dealing with the elderly, are probably safe not being super advanced," he says. "But if you’re a practice that wants to go after the high-end, high-value profitability patient, you’re signing your death warrant if you are not [technologically] advanced.”
  • Dr. Warwick Charlton suggests modular technology solutions: "If your system is monolithic…it’s very hard to get that incremental gain that dedicated modular systems can get. Over the long run, it’s a less scalable, less technologically adaptable answer."

Probably the single best advice came in the paragraph below (make sure to get the integration with advanced functionality):

Describing the practice’s first go-round with an EHR as "disastrous because it was so complicated and expensive," McMahon has made paramount selecting the right EHR/PM this time around. Her wish list for a cloud-based integrated EHR/PM system makes ease of use a priority along with features such as voice dictation, e-prescribing, integration with scanners and fax machines, interfaces with existing medical equipment, and a patient portal that offers appointment reminders and bill payment options.

When looking for integrated solutions, though, be sure to heed Dr. Charlton’s advice and go modular and not monolithic. Over the long run, no single solution will fit your bill so you need to prepared to become an integration specialist.

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